Sexual abuse or assault (rape) can happen to anyone. If it has happened to you, you aren't to blame. Sexual abuse is any type of sexual activity that is done against your will. It can be nonviolent sexual abuse. Examples include nontouching sexual exposure (like being forced to look at sexual pictures) and unwanted or forced sexual touching. Or it can mean a violent sexual assault, such as rape or attempted rape. The attacker may be a stranger or someone you don't know well. Or it may be a close friend or a family member (incest). Many victims of abuse or assault know their attacker.
Teens and young adults may be at risk for becoming victims of sexual assault or violent behavior in situations where certain date rape drugs are used.
It's often hard for people to talk about sexual abuse or assault. The person who was abused often feels shame or guilt and may be too afraid of the abuser to say anything. But it's important to seek help and then keep getting help for as long as you need it. Talk to the police or to a health professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or counselor. Or call a local rape crisis center. Any of these people can help you get medical treatment, deal with your feelings, and take steps to stop the abuser or rapist.
Sexual abuse can be something spoken or seen. Or it can be anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact. This type of abuse may occur over and over. Examples of nonviolent sexual abuse include forcing a person to:
Violent sexual assault is any forced sexual contact where something is put into (penetrates) the vagina, anus, or mouth. Violence or fear is used to force the person to have sex. Examples include:
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Sexual abuse is any type of sexual activity that is done against your will. It can be:
Neglect is a form of abuse. It happens when caregivers do not protect the health and well-being of the person they are supposed to take care of.
Two common types of neglect are:
If you have just been sexually abused or assaulted, try to preserve any evidence of the attack.
Physical abuse may include:
Based on your answers, you may need help soon.
Call your local YMCA, YWCA, hospital, clinic, or police department, or call an abuse hotline.
You may also call 911.
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call 911 or other emergency services now.
Sometimes people don't want to call 911. They may think that their symptoms aren't serious or that they can just get someone else to drive them. Or they might be concerned about the cost. But based on your answers, the safest and quickest way for you to get the care you need is to call 911 for medical transport to the hospital.
Based on your answers, you may need help right away.
Call your local hospital, clinic, or police department, or call an abuse hotline.
You may also call 911.
If you feel threatened or need help right away:
If you have been a victim of abuse and keep having problems related to the abuse, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Signs of sexual abuse may not be apparent without an examination of the genital area. These signs include:
Vaginal bleeding in a child before the beginning of menstruation is abnormal, as are other vaginal or genital symptoms such as sores, warts, pain, or unusual discharge. Abnormal vaginal bleeding may be caused by physical or sexual abuse that injures the abdominal or vaginal area. Vaginal bleeding that is caused by abuse often is the result of minor physical injuries that will get better on their own or with home treatment.
You may feel uneasy if your child's doctor brings up the issue of abuse. But doctors have a professional duty and legal obligation to evaluate the possibility of abuse. It is important to consider this, especially if there were no witnesses to the injury that caused the child's vaginal bleeding.
If you think your child has been sexually abused, call your child's doctor or contact the National Child Abuse Hotline and Referral Service at 1-800-422-4453.
Call a doctor if problems from violence or abuse occur more often or are more severe.
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